Sheikh's City Ease Past Schalke
VELTINS Arena, Gelsenkirchen
Mark Hughes made a couple of changes to the side that thumped Arsenal 3-0. Vincent Kompany shifts to the centre of defence which means Richards starts at RB, in place of Zabaleta. Elsewhere Sturridge replaces the magician Robinho, and Didi Hamann takes the role of holding the ball up in the centre of the park, as City look to blaze their opponents apart in their Bright Orange third kit.
Full Team News:
Schalke: Neuer, Westermann, Bordon (c), Rakitic, Jones, Farfan, Rafinha, Altintop, Kuranyi, Pander, Engelaar.
Subs: Schober, Kobiashvili, Ernst, Asamoah, Howedes, Zambrano, Sanchez.
City: Hart, Richards, Dunne (c), Kompany, Garrido, Ireland, Hamann, Wright-Phillips, Vassell, Sturridge, Benjani.
Subs: Schmeichel, Ball, Ben-Haim, Logan, Glauber, Evans, Jo.
The game started nervously for both teams, as neither could really keep the ball for a certain amount of time. However neat work from Sturridge set up the first half chance for any side. His dancing run was concluded with a cross that Benjani was within inches of connecting with.
Schalke then made the most of their home advantage as they looked the more threatening going forward. Kevin Kuranyi on several occasions went past Garrido as If the little Spaniard was not there, but failed to produce a satisfactory cross on any occasion. It was then Jones who tormented Garrido before firing a shot across goal only for Joe Hart to produce a fantastic save to claw the ball past the post.
Manchester City where producing half chances here and there, Both Sturridge and Vassell were swinging in teasing crosses, but with only Benjani in the box, their was hardly any positive ending`s to them. Jones then produced another fine save from Hart at the other end, when he flicked the ball from behind his foot and fired a volley towards Hart`s right hand post, but Hart was their to not only block the shot but catch it!
Schalke then had shots blocked by Dunne and Garrido as they looked for the opening goal. However it was the City fan`s who didn`t have to wait long to see their side score. Kompany won the ball, half way inside his own half, before he charged forward and released Sturridge down the left wing. From here Sturridge produced step-overs and quick changes of pace, before placing a sublime cross across the six-yard box, to Ireland who saw the ball go straight through him. However all was not lost as running into the far post was Benjani who said thank you very much and poked home his second UEFA cup goal for the campaign.
Manchester City then had another goal disallowed. A quick one-two between Ireland and Sturridge saw the shot by Ireland saved, however the rebound only found Sturridge who skipped past one and produced a shot that met Ireland who poked the ball into an open goal.
However replays show that Ireland was offside when Sturridge shot the ball, and the ref got the decision correct. I think the shot was going wide anyway, but its hard to tell.
A free-kick for Schalke was blocked by City as the half time whistle blew and City went in at the break 1-0 to the good.
Michael Ball replaced an Injured Javier Garrido as the second half began.
The second half started in the same fashion as the first. Schalke had the majority of the first 10 minutes and pressured the City defence without ever penetrating through the impressive partnership of Dunne and Kompany. However the first real chance at goal came from Shaun Wright-Phillips who received the ball about 30-yards from goal. He steadied himself quickly and hit a fizzing shot that the Schalke goalkeeper did well to palm away.
By this stage the City fans were in full swing, shouting "where going to Istanbul" but these cheers where shortly interrupted when the stadium announcer referred to our great Club as "Man United". I bet someone paid them to do that?
Although I bet Man United had there very own Superman. Ball managed to play the thrown-in to Vassell who flicked the ball on with his chest to Benjani who tried the one-two with Ireland only for the defender to intercept. The interception however only found Benjani`s foot and from his touch, the race was on between Ireland and the Schalke goalkeeper. As the ball dropped, it found Ireland`s foot before the gloves of the keeper, and was rolled into the net. The Irishman in my eyes is the first name on the team sheet.
Manchester City then fell asleep after the second goal, and Schalke began finding their rhythm. Richard Dunne and Joe Hart kept the score line clean, with a key interception and a world-class save. Schalke were within one boxed pass away from pegging back the deficit, only for Dunne to read the ball and intercept. Then from a free-kick, Joe Hart made himself big to deny a certain goal from an in-swinging cross which was met by a Schalke head.
The Game then produced Yellow cards for Ireland and Richards. I could not understand the ref`s discipline? Not only was the yellow cards soft, but he failed to produce a single yellow card to any Schalke player including Rafinha, who could not handle Sturridge or Vassell at all.
Manchester City managed to sit back comfortably and played out time to record their second straight win in the group stage of the UEFA Cup.
Apart from the second half, Manchester City looked strong and looked stronger than they ever have away from home. Stephen Ireland, take a bow son that was an awesome performance. Benjani took his goal well but at some points lacked any imaginary runs as City were forced to pass the ball around in their half. Shaun Wright-Phillips played well, however I still can`t quite figure out why he is being played in the middle. He got most of his joy running down the right-hand side. Overall 3 points, a great performance and the perfect platform for Sunday`s Derby.